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AP: Dallas convention center to hold unaccompanied teens

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Houston immigration reporter Nomaan Merchant and Dallas reporter Jake Bleiberg teamed up as AP was first to report that the federal government would use the Dallas convention center to temporarily house up to 3,000 migrant teens amid a scramble for space as more unaccompanied children arrive at the U.S. border.

Merchant had been looking into whether the federal government would open additional detention facilities for unaccompanied children straining the immigration system at the border when he fielded the tip: It’s going to be in Dallas and it’s going to be big. While on the phone, Merchant passed the information to Bleiberg, who got a source to provide a memo sent to Dallas City Council members.

The story was so far ahead of the curve that White House press secretary Jen Psaki indicated she was unfamiliar with the plan when an AP reporter asked her about it in a briefing. The story was used by CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox News, as well as local TV and radio stations across Texas.

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Migrant children and teenagers transported from the southern border of the United States wait to be processed at a temporary holding facility south of Midland, Texas, March 14, 2021. – Eli Hartman / Odessa American via AP
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